“Kosovo President Hashim Thaci is determined to continue to seek publicly a peaceful agreement with Serbia to correct the eastern border of Kosovo with the Preshvo Valley, and in September intends to set it up and topic in the bilateral talks table. He says the US and the EU are encouraging dialogue by peaceful means and that he has the mandate given by the Constitution to represent Kosovo in this process.
President Thaçi ignores criticisms at his address and says there is no reason for his proposal to have domino effect for other countries, while the process is based on peaceful talks.
He says he has been consulted with the political leaders of the Presevo Valley and that they have expressed the will to unite with Kosovo in the 1992 referendum.
President Thaçi does not consider it taboo, nor the opening of the debate on unification between Kosovo and Albania, always standing in peace processes. He says there is a Plan B to come out of this debate without hurting Kosovo if the talks fail.
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci’s interview for the “Tema” newspaper is the first he gives in print after the start of this debate.
Mero Baze: Mr. President, at the height of the talks between Kosovo and Serbia, you have caused a national debate because of the perception that you are talking about territorial exchange and border change, even though you formally talk about border correction. Are you aware that you are opening the ‘Pandora’s Box’ in the Balkans?
Hashim Thaci: We live in the 21st century and the Western Balkan states have understood the mistakes they have made in the last century. The problems open in the 21st century are solved by peaceful means. I am calling for border correction to be made peacefully to enable Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja to join Kosovo. No one can oppose an agreement that is peacefully achieved. Such cases of border correction are peacefully around the globe. Just two years ago, Belgium and the Netherlands fired no bullets, corrected their border peacefully. So ‘Pandora’s Box’ under no circumstances can be opened in the Balkans, if the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia is reached peacefully.
Mero Baze: You are saying now that you are only looking for border correction with the Presevo Valley. Does it seem a little bit frustrating to ask Serbia on the border change table in favor of Kosovo, while still not recognizing it as a state?
Hashim Thaçi: You are wrong. In the EU-mediated dialogue on normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia, the two countries negotiate independently, equally and as sovereign states. So Serbia in the negotiations in Brussels sits opposite Kosovo and considers it an independent and sovereign state.
Mero Baze: You have today requested a referendum from the citizens of Kosovo on this issue. In fact, those who are to be questioned and decided are citizens of the Presevo Valley. Do you think Serbia is ready to recognize a referendum?
Hashim Thaçi: Citizens of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedje have expressed their will in a democratic way through a referendum organized in 1992. Their political will is clear: they want to join Kosovo.
Mero Baze: Just as you, President Vucic, may consider limiting the request for taking North Kosovo. What will be your answer?
Hashim Thaçi: I fight and protect the interest of the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo. I do not cry to Serbia, under any circumstances. But in such a hypothetical scenario my answer will be ‘No!'” (translated from Klan Kosova, full interview in Albanian available here)